You have probably heard about deep breathing in yoga. There are actually some forms of yoga that focus solely on the breathing. But generally, breathing is very very important in yoga. You're probably wondering why. Well, I like to tell you these things :)
Think about how you breathe, especially when you exercise. Is it short, shallow breaths through your mouth? Research in the medical field has shown that deep long breaths are better than shallow breaths because we take in more oxygen that can be used by our bodies to promote overall health. And breathing through the nose is important because the nostrils has filters the mouth does not have. I won't get into the technical details (we can leave that to the experts), but it is common knowledge that deeper breaths through the nose are better than shallow ones. This is one of the reasons deep breaths are promoted in yoga.
Another reason is that your muscles also require oxygen. If you are a runner or do other kinds of strenuous exercise, you may have heard that when you feel pushed to your max, try to focus on taking deep breaths. The oxygen you get here is used to help your muscles work harder. Yoga requires a lot of muscle action (more than you think) and so the same theory applies.
With yoga, you find yourself staying in a very uncomfortable pose for longer than you would think you can. Usually, this means you may start to think about your muscles, you may lose focus, and then start to mess around in the pose. Finding one constant thing to focus on, like the breath, helps to center you so your mind doesn't wonder, and so you can focus on being still.
A lot of things in yoga are a metaphor for life too. When you are being pushed to your limits and things are going crazy in your life, there is usually one thing that is constant. It could be the love of your family, your passion, etc. Focusing on that thing can often help you get through tough times. In yoga, focusing on the breath, which is the one constant thing, can allow you get through the motions of the session.
There are many other reasons, but these are the main ones for me. I hope it helps you!
Now that you know the 'why', let's talk about the 'how'. The breath should be in 3 parts, all through the nose: inhale deeply, hold, and exhale completely. Practice it today. For a demonstration, check out my video here: Yoga breathing.
Cheers Eights & Weights!